A Century of Anarchy By Peter C. Earle


Could a community without a central government avoid descending into chaos and rampant criminality? Could its economy grow and thrive without the intervening regulatory hand of the state? Could disputes between citizens be settled if there existed no state monopoly on legal judgments? Apparently, the answers to these questions are yes, yes, and yes.

Indeed, if the strange and little-known case of the condominium of Neutral Moresnet — a tiny wedge of disputed territory in northwestern Europe — acts as our guide, we must conclude that statelessness is not only possible but beneficial to progress, carrying profound advantages over coercive bureaucracies.

The remarkable enterprise that was Moresnet was an unintended consequence of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815).

Created as a triangle of neutral territory between Prussia and the Netherlands by the Congress of Vienna, Moresnet encapsulates the archetype of market anarchy. Hidden in its history we find privately produced, commodity-backed money; competing avenues for the administration of justice; negligible — and, it seems, entirely avoidable — taxes and fees; few, if any, regulations; a defense force without a standing military; open borders (however unintentionally); and an irrepressibly entrepreneurial spirit.

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  •  Mike Reid

    A Century of Anarchy

    A Century of Anarchy: Neutral Moresnet through the Revisionist Lens “In this brief but thoroughly fascinating essay on the little-known neutral and stateless territory of Moresnet, Pete Earle does for 19th Century Europe what James C. Scott did for the highlands of Southeast Asia in his book The Art of Not Being Governed. He provides yet another and very recent example of the peace and prosperity that are possible in the absence of coercive government – or, as Albert Jay Nock would have put it, in the presence of government without the State. A must for every reader interested in the practicality of anarchism.” ~ Jeff Riggenbach (This book will be free to Liberty.me members in the month of August.) Kick off the discussion! Questions, comments, observations or elaborations? Either reply here or create a new discussion using the tag Library_a-century-of-anarchy

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